Check CR local status online in a month

Central Railway commuters will be able to track real-time location of trains across the suburban network on a dedicated website——or the pan-India train inquiry number 139 within a month. The information will help commuters alter their travel plans if there is a delay in or cancellation of a preferred service.

The project, which is nearing completion, will come as a relief to lakhs of CR commuters. The CR suburban network operates around 1,618 services per day on all its three lines—main, harbour as well as trans-harbour.

Commuters will not just be able to track a train’s exact location but also the preceding and following two stations.

It is the Control Office Application (COA) that currently monitors the movement of long-distance trains across the country in real time through a computer-aided interface. It was developed by the Centre for Railway Information System (CRIS)—the information technology arm of Indian Railways. The COA enables passengers to track the movement of both scheduled and unscheduled trains on the website or on 139.

CR divisional general manager Mukesh Nigam said, “Till now, one can only track the movement of long-distance trains because the suburban network is not completely integrated with the COA.”

Nigam further said he was keen on this integration to capitalize on the use of mobile phones. Moreover, in a busy city such as Mumbai, commuters would benefit from updated information on trains, he said.

The suburban network is a challenging task, Nigam said, as certain stretches run on four corridors while long-distance trains operate on two. The average frequency of services on the main line is f our minutes and harbour line five minutes.

Railways gets on the info track

Guess which train generates the maximum enquiries over the Indian Railways’ information portals?

No, it’s not the Rajdhani or a very long distance train. It’s the Magadh Express, plying between Delhi and Patna.

So why does this particular train get so many queries?

When this question was posed to passengers over Facebook, the simple answer was “because it always runs late”!

Within a short time of going live, Railways site, and, operated by Stelling Technologies for the National Train Enquiry System (NTES), have managed to dig out some rich customer insights. As Mr Sunil Bajpai, Group General Manager, Centre for Railway Information System, (CRIS) points out, some of these insights could help the Railways build some value-added services on their portals that will be useful to passengers.

Around 9,000 trains run daily on the vast Indian Railways network. Minute by minute, kilometre by kilometre, running information on these as well as operations data from 6,000 railway stations filters into the CRIS office daily.

But till recently this huge volume of data was not getting transferred to the customer. Now, some of it is getting mined and being put “in real time” on as well as, and available to users online as well as over mobile phones. “We also plan to open the API (Application programming Interface) in such a way that third party service providers can source this information and provide it as well,” says Mr Bajpai.

Already, over and, passengers can find out the exact spot a train is at any given point. Going forward, useful information such as which platform it will chug into and perhaps even the exact spot on the platform a particular coach will halt at could be shared.

And all this without typing the train number (a major pain point for passengers trying to buy tickets on railway portals) but simply the name. “We found that most people disliked remembering numbers so have made searches easier by name,” says Mr Manish Rathi, CEO, Stelling Technologies, the tech company that powers According to Mr Bajpai, the number of daily visitors on the train enquiry site is already running into lakhs. “And this is only ten per cent of the total traffic that comes to the Railway Web sites.”

Mr Rathi says the information exchange could facilitate value-added services such as cab rentals for passengers. The data mining in real time could even help alert Railways when something untoward happens. As Mr Rathi points out, based on the information flow on they can reliably say the recent Hubli-Bangalore-Hampi Express accident in Andhra Pradesh happened between 3.00 a.m. and 3.05 a.m. “We get information feeds on a train every five kilometres it traverses, which is every five minutes, and the feed stopped at 3.00 a.m.,” he says.

Rlys to launch own portal for e-ticketing

The Indian Railways, following frequent complaints, has decided to launch its own portal for e-ticketing to cater to the needs of the people. The new portal is likely to be launched by September-end. However, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) will continue to issue e-tickets to passengers on its website.

According to a Railway Board official, the railways will start issuing e-tickets online on its own website from the last week of September providing an option to the needy and computer savvy passengers to procure their e-tickets either from IRCTC or Indian Railways website as per their convenience, he said.

The board official said the railways’ move would end monopoly of private sectors, who have been given franchise by IRCTC to book e-tickets from different places across the country. At present about 30 per cent of all rail ticket bookings are being made by the IRCTC. The railways is, in fact, considering to provide multiple e-ticket booking choice to passengers at a time of computerisation and globalization, he said.

The Centre for Railway Information System (CRIS), which is a wing of railways, has been working hard to make e-ticket booking functional on its own portal. Recently it became difficult for most of passengers to access the IRCTC website for booking their tickets through e-ticketing system. The recent scam related to e-ticketing booking and fake cancellation of trains in Samastipur division of East Central Railway (ECR) has forced Indian Railways to work out an alternative website for procuring e-tickets across the country, the board official said.

The official admitted that railways was forced to ban about eight lakh e-ticketing agents at the country level for booking Tatkal tickets between 8 am and 9 am on the IRCTC portal due to glaring misuse of this facility by these agents. These agents have been grabbing berths to sell them at a premium at all important stations. The ban imposed on them to access the IRCTC website in the first one hour has so far yielded good results. The new railway portal will become an easily accessible portal for the common people to procure e-tickets by any mail and express trains, he said.

It may be recalled that the Indian Railways has, of late, stripped the IRCTC of catering services on all long distance mail and express trains. Railways intends to take up the catering responsibility on itself to serve passengers with meals and breakfast on running trains, sources said.

Hand Held Terminals for TTEs likely

NEW DELHI, INDIA: After bringing revolution in Passengers Reservation System (PRS) by introducing ticket booking facility online, Indian Railways is working further to enhance comfort of passengers in its reservation system.

CIOL interacted with some senior officials of Centre for Railway Information System (CRIS), responsible for the implementation of Information and Communication Technology in Indian Railways, before CRIS Day, and learnt that CRIS is working on projects to make the services greener and simultaneously improve its various processes by deploying technology.

These processes include improvement in PRS by providing confirmation to ticket in waiting list while on the move and sending instant accommodation availability status on the running train to all stations and even the stations to which it would be approaching.

Internally known as the Hand Held Terminal (HHT) system, it has been provided to Travelling Ticket Examiners (TTEs) on a pilot basis on a total of twelve Rajadhani Express trains and some trains running between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

IRCTC had also revamped its website, to make it more user friendly. Also Oracle is helping it in freight management.

TTEs play a critical role in the efficient allotment of accommodation to the millions of passengers who reserve seats in trains.

“Use of hand-held devices by the TTEs has been envisioned as a means of easing their work, as well as making the process of berth allotment on running trains visible to passengers. It will also improve the quality of information in our databases for further analysis by our business intelligence systems,” elaborated SB Roy, Director, Passengers Reservation System (PRS), CRIS.

At present TTEs have to carry sheaves of paper reservation charts, and refer to them each time they check a passenger ticket or allot a berth on the train. With the use of hand-held devices, this paper gets eliminated.

“This will benefit passengers in two ways. First, passengers at stations that the train is yet to cross would be able to book tickets for seats that could not be occupied by the passengers who had already booked them. Secondly, passengers claiming refund against tickets that they had booked but could not travel on would be greatly facilitated,” explained Seema Kumar, General Manager in charge of the project.

Even TTEs are enjoying using these hand-held devices for ticket checking.

“With the implementation of Hand-Held Terminals on Shatabdi Trains, it has become very convenient to do ticket checking as need for carrying multiple paper charts has been completely eliminated,” said Ramesh Kumar, Deputy Train Superintendent, Shatabdti Express Trains, Delhi.

CRIS is also working on systems to provide train tickets on mobile phone of passengers.

“In case of a reserved ticket, a passenger will just have to show an SMS to the TTE instead of a paper ticket. The SMS will be sent from our server at the time of booking the ticket,” said one of the CRIS managers, who did not want to be named, and is involved in the project.

He added that since the project is under development, and will have to get the board approval, it will be too early to comment on the timeline for the availability of this facility.

With over one million passengers traveling daily on reserved tickets, the tons of paper used for printouts can be saved with this facility.

CRIS is experimenting with the system to send unreserved tickets directly to passengers’ mobile phones. Applications are being tested that would generate tickets in the mobile phone itself. However, the implementation of such systems is still some time away, since various clearances would have to be provided by the Ministry of Railways, before such tickets could become a convenient reality for the millions of passengers using train services daily.

©CyberMedia News